Competent Authority on State media to continue

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 31 March 2004, 16:15 GMT]
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court Wednesday refused to issue an interim injunction to suspend the appointment of the Competent Authority for the three State controlled electronic media, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and Independent Television Network (ITN), legal sources said.

The Commissioner of Elections Monday appointed a Competent Authority for the three State controlled electronic media, SLBC, SLRC and ITN till the general election is over. The Elections Commissioner further issued guidelines for these electronic media institutions to follow till the general election is concluded.

The heads of the State electronic media institutions filed three Fundamental Rights applications in the Supreme Court on the same day separately challenging the order of the Commissioner of Elections The cited the Commissioner of Elections and the Attorney General as respondents

These FR applications came up for inquiry before a three-member bench of the SC first on Tuesday and later on Wednesday.

During the inquiry held on Wednesday three-member bench of the SC comprised Justices Hector S.Yapa, T.B.Weerasuriya and Nihal Jayasinghe refused to issue an interim injunction on the appointment of Competent Authority for three state electronic media institutions.

Counsel for the petitioners argued the guidelines issued by the Commissioner of Elections and the appointment of the Competent Authority were in violation of their right to engage in the lawful occupation of choice and the freedom of expression, legal sources said.

Counsel for the Commissioner of Elections replied that his client has appointed the Competent Authority for the benefit of the public, legal sources said.

The SC refusing to issue an interim injunction on the Commissioner of Elections directed the Competent Authority to discharge his duties in consultation with the Attorney General. The heads of the SLBC, SLRC and ITN were also advised to obtain prior permission from the Attorney General before airing any controversial political programmes, legal sources said.


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